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Nov 21, 2010 10:48 AM

Nice at Christmas

I am arriving in Nice on December 25, leaving January 1. I have tentatively chosen the following restaurants for evening meals (I'm planning on doing street snacking during the day). Any advice or comments? Anything I'm missing that I shouldn't?

December 25: L'Univers-Christian Plumail

December 28: Aphrodite

December 29: Keisuke Matsushima

December 30: La Casbah

December 31: Le Tire Bouchon

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  1. I think that L'Univers is usually quite disappointing.

    L'Aphrodite is very good in its refurbished home. The big question there is whether to have the experimental menu, which I recommend as a rewarding adventure at least once.

    Keisuke Matsushima is a good choice.

    I've not been to Le Casbah, but imagine it has okay touristy Moroccan fare.

    Le Tire Bouchon is above average for the tourist restaurants of Old Nice, but New Year's Eve is a difficult time to eat out in France and it is probably a good solution. The other one is to have a good, big lunch and then have smoked salmon and Champagne in your hotel room. Don't miss the fireworks at midnight over the Baie des Anges; they are great. .

    As usual, I would recommend Millésime 82, Flaveur, Don Camillo Creations, Le Diamant Noir and Luc Salsedo.

    3 Replies
    1. re: beaulieu

      Thanx, Beaulieu, for your timely info.
      I will be in Nice - by the old port - from 24 through the New Year. Your recs are always the best and the most à jour.
      Perhaps see you and other coastal hounds there…

      1. re: Parigi


        I followed Beaulieu's recommendations for our recent trip to Nice and was not disappointed, and in some instances could have kissed him :)

        Our favorite hands down was Flaveur. Everything was, as befitting its name. bursting with flavor. I still can taste the scallops and veal (my memory isn't what it was and unfortunately I neglected to take notes of our meals) If you have to choose one place to go all out, to me this would be it. A+

        And the others, in order of preference:
        L'Aphrodite - wonderfully inventive. We had a lovely wine, and everything was quite good, with the entrees standing out. A great evening. A
        Millésime 82: A to A- An almost tie with L'Aphrodite. We got the 5 course menu with some hits and misses, but overall it was wonderful, especially the seafood. I'd go back.

        Keisuke Matsushima: A- to B+ Again, we got the menu. and it was stellar as well. But, it lacked a little in the welcome, felt a bit colder. and had the disadvantage of coming after we were blown away at Flaveur.

        Luc Salsedo: B to B- Food was quite good, unfortunately we didn't feel comfortable there. My husband speaks well-accented, fluent French and I am learning (at an intermediate level), and everyone except for the new waiter (who was reprimanded in front of us for pouring our wine along with our apperitifs when we asked him to). insisted in speaking to us in English, whenever they had to speak to us. It was really a strange experience, as our English speaking neighbors were fawned over by everyone and we never really connected with the staff. We left feeling not so happy despite the food, so I put it at the bottom due to our overall experience...your mileage may vary, as they say.

        Sorry that we missed Don Camillo!

        I can recommend one place that I haven't really seen mentioned here: Boni.(A :) It's an Italian small plates kind of place, my favorite kind where the menu changes daily. The owner and waitstaff were friendly and welcoming and the food was simple yet yummy. And pretty cheap.

        And for lunch, we had a lovely meal at L'Olivier. The owner is so nice, and we bought some olive oil. And Lou Pilha Leva, for us for the sardine beignets instead of the socca.

        Overall, I do think that Beaulieu and other chowhounders really hit the nail on the head for us. And who knows, we could have just hit Luc Salsedo on a bad service night, cause it wasn't the food that made me rate it that way. We had some fabulous memorable meals.

        Enjoy Nice!

        1. re: sistereurope

          Thank you for your thorough report. I spend xmas on the Riviera - usually in Menton - every other year. My husband loves to cook, therefore we rent a place and cook at home most of the time.
          Your report will be very helpful. In 3 lines you say everything about a place, including the hidden flaws. Merci.

    2. Yes, I could have easily stayed in our apartment and cooked some of that fabulous seafood...sigh.

      To the original poster, I would swap something out for Flaveur for sure...and perhaps Millésime 82. We ate at Le Tire Bouchon over Easter weekend a few years ago and it was fine. You might also consider Beaulieu's suggestion and have a big lunch on NY. We went to Chateau Eze on Easter Sunday and had a wonderful lunch - yummy lamb - overlooking the sea. It was memorable.
      Paris is my addiction, but Nice comes close! Enjoy your trip.

      2 Replies
      1. re: sistereurope

        Merci merci merci, sistereurope. We had an excellent lunch chez Flaveur.
        The rest of the time we cooked at home after depleting the fish market (and somewhat cheating with those ravioli niçois stuffed with cèpes or with truffle or with St Jacques.

        1. re: Parigi

          Oh I am happy that you enjoyed Flaveur, Pairigi, it really was my favorite in Nice (and my oh my I would have loved to be able to shop at that fish market). It sounds like you had a great vacation
          Paris is up next for me, in June. Will be sure to keep tabs on the board between now and then!

      2. Beaulieu-- I would be interested in your thoughts about Les Viviers. Not mentioned much here.

        2 Replies
        1. re: menton1

          We have not been to Les Viviers for a while. My recollection is that it is a good restaurant, but somewhat dated. I think that Florian used to be in that spot. I guess the restaurants I usually choose or recommend are ones which seem more inspired.

          1. re: beaulieu

            Ok thanks, Beaulieu.
            I also hear from folks that M. Rolancy has opened a slightly less-formal Bistro next door with a more innovative and forward approach to seafood dishes. (Le Bistrot des Viviers?) They mention ratatouille-stuffed calamari and lobster risotto as some of the offerings there. Sounds inviting...

        2. we have family living in nice and have spent many holidays in the area. another restaurant that we would recommend is parcours. it is located in fallicon, wihch is a small town above but close to nice. the food is great and the large windows in the dining room let you look out over the area whilst eating. it is definitely off the beaten track and worth the trip. you can check its website

          1 Reply
          1. re: pottergal

            Thanks so much for the advice! I will look into switching a few of them based on this.

          2. We just got back from a week in Nice, fabulous time, though it was snowing lightly when we left! We stayed right on the edge of old Nice and ventured out everynight to somewhere different in the neighborhood. So much to choose from! We did have a phenomenal meal at L'Universe. Husband is a chef so this was a pretty big deal. Other places of note in Old Nice-

            La Villa- excellent Corsican /French food. The charcuterie platter was out of this world. I had a perfectly cooked risotto with chevre, sea scallops and asparagus, hubby had a lamb brochette that was slightly overdone but overall this was an excellent -little pricey- experience.

            Our last night was at Chez Memere- they were closing up for the holidays, so they probably won't be open for Christmas- I had a lamb shank with thyme, their house special. I was hoping for cassoulet but she had already run out- I would go back there as my first stop next time!

            Our last lunch was at Bistro D'Antoine, We didn't have a reservation but we were willing to sit ouside under the awning next to the heater in our coats, gloves and blankets that they offered. :) Excellent choice- rabbit terrine and sausage and lentils.

            We ate at Cayenne Kafe one night - they had great pizza and atmosphere. Whatever you do, either try to go by 7-ish or make a reservation for any places you want to try- we were turned away several times.